Cincinnati Bengals Vs. New England Patriots Preview (12/24/22): Betting Odds, Prediction, Depth Chart

It’s starting to feel like crunch time, where every game has huge ramifications, and this Saturday’s AFC matchup is no exception. While it’s not quite do or die for the Patriots this week in Foxboro, they’re sitting a game out of the playoff field with just two games left against tough teams, so there won’t be too many more chances to grab the wins they need to make the playoffs. For the Bengals, while their playoff berth is all but assured, the tiniest slip could mean the Ravens grab the division crown. Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks for this Christmas Eve matchup.

Bengals Vs. Patriots Betting Odds

The Patriots are underdogs at home in this one, as the Bengals are favored by 3.5 points. The scoring total is set at 41.5, perhaps a nod to potentially wintry New England conditions.

Bengals Vs. Patriots Prediction

There’s nowhere we can possibly start except with the elephant in the room; what the hell happened on the Patriots’ last play last week against the Raiders? Dubbed one of the stupidest plays in league history, nobody really knows how it went down- especially on a Belichick-coached team- but what we do know is that it sealed a loss in a game the Pats definitely needed to win in order to properly position themselves to make the playoffs. With that opportunity squandered, and a brutal finishing schedule, it’s an uphill battle for a team that is in the midst of a pretty dismal 1-3 stretch. This isn’t quite their last stand, but it’s not too easy to envision a realistic route to the postseason that starts with a loss against the Bengals

Cincy, on the other hand, has somewhat quietly put up another great season, as they’ve already matched the 10 wins they picked up en route to an AFC North title a year ago, as well as paralleling previous victories over Pat Mahomes’s Chiefs by picking up another. That being said, there’s more competition than last year, with the Ravens right on their tails in the standings. A huge Week 17 matchup between the two teams could be the division-decider, but with a date with the Bills looming, the Bengals won’t want to squander any chances for what should be an easier win than anything that lies ahead. On the flip side, if Cincy does win their last two games, this one could be huge for seeding; if they beat the Bills, they’re gonna want to have won this one also.

How do I put this not delicately…the Bengals have been playing really good football as of late, and the Patriots have been really bad. 3.5 points is a super interesting number- Foxboro is a tough place to play, it’ll be cold and 70,000 Patriots fans (including myself) will be yelling their heads off, and the Bengals aren’t always blowout artists. But it’s hard to actually bet on New England to stay tight with a division-leading team like Cincy; the offense has been incredibly spotty, and the defense is playing well but not nearly well enough to slow down a Bengals offense that just got Ja’Marr Chase back. In a similar vein, I actually like the over in this one, the weather report looks generally fine and Chase’s impact against a less-than-100% Jack Jones cannot be overstated.

Betting Trends

When the Bengals get hot, they stay hot; they’re 4-1 ATS in their past 5 games following a 30+ point performance

In a similar vein, the over is 7-2-1 in the Bengals’ past 10 games after they score 30 or more points in the previous week.

Key Injuries

Bengals Injuries: Tee Higgins (Q),

Patriots Injuries: Jack Jones (Q), Rhamondre Stevenson (Q), Jakobi Meyers (Q)

Key Matchups

Bengals Passing Offense vs. Patriots Air Defense

If the Bengals are going to come out on the road and be dominant, they’re very likely going to try to do it through Joe Burrow and the passing attack, which is averaging the sixth-most yardage of any team in the league (262.1 per game). While Cincy spent the offseason prioritizing upgrades across the offensive line, injuries and poor play have negated those efforts; according to PFF, they still are just the 28th-best pass blocking unit in the league. The skill positions are much more favorably viewed by this metric; the team (so namely Burrow) has the 2nd-highest passing grade, and the receiving group ranks fourth in the league. That unit is headlined by Ja’Marr Chase, who has scored touchdowns in his past two games, as he seems to have settled in since returning from injury. Tee Higgins is also having another really nice year, but has also dealt with some injuries; he’s expected to play in Foxborough this Saturday, but don’t be overly surprised if his role is limited, or if he simply has a bit of a down week.

The Patriots are positioned fairly well to take advantage of the Bengals’ subpar offensive line, with the 11th-ranked pass rush as per PFF. They’re led by edge rusher Matt Judon, who is second in the NFL with 14.5 sacks thus far, and rising star Josh Uche who has 10.5 himself, in significantly less snaps, but by far leads the team with a PFF pass rush grade of 88.1 and a win rate over 22%. The secondary is a bit less star-studded, as rookie standout Jack Jones has slowed down a good bit and begun to experience some understandable struggles in the more recent parts of his first season in the league. The safety duo of Kyle Dugger and Adrian Phillips has also been extremely valuable, and of course Devin McCourty is still pulling a big workload at the age of 35. They’ve limited opponents to an impressive 202 air yards per game, the 9th-best total in the league, but this could largely be due to game script, as the Pats have simply been run out of games more than once. Given the relative strengths and weaknesses of both teams, New England is going to have to rely on a strong pass rush and get through that weak o-line to Burrow, and make sure he doesn’t get comfortable to sit back and dissect the secondary with the excellent Cincy wideouts and other pass catchers.

Patriots Run Game vs. Bengals Run Defense

The Patriots, on the other hand, will look to control the game and the clock, and limit opportunities for Cincy’s potent offense. The Bengals are not a bad defensive team really, but that’s surely the unit I’d rather see spend the most time on the field if I were the Patriots. They’ve allowed the 8th-least rushing yards per gam of any team (109.6), but at a more average 4.3 yards per carry; the low overall volume is likely due to their opponents playing from behind more often than not, and turning to the air in those situations. There’s good contributors at all levels of the defense as well. Sam Hubbard is the front seven’s best run defender as per PFF’s grades, as he’s been solid off the edge once again with a career-best 10 stuffs. At linebacker, Logan Wilson has yet to miss a tackle or register a penalty, an impressive display of strong discipline and fundamental football. And Jessie Bates has been very good against the run as far as safeties go, frequently coming up into the box to provide support. It’s a decent group, the 17th-best by PFF’s estimation, and they’ll hope to have a hot start against a somewhat inconsistent Patriots run game, and force them to the air.

Many years, the Patriots have used a true committee approach at the running back position, but that has not been the case this year. Partially due to injury, but also in a differential in level of play, Rhamondre Stevenson has pulled away from Damien Harris (who is currently out) for the RB1 spot, as he is now approaching 1,000 yards on the season. With Harris absent, Pierre Strong will take on RB2 duties, but he has just 100 yards on 10 carries thus far. This has been a pretty average group by most measures, if not a little worse; according to PFF, the running backs are the 14th-best group in the league, while the line is 23rd in the run-blocking category, and by pure yardage the Pats sit in 19th (112.0 YPG, 4.3 per carry). They’ve certainly had their dominant ground performances, most recently Stevenson’s 172-yard explosion against the Raiders. But of course, he instigated the ridiculous lateral debacle, so it’ll be interesting to see not only how much Belichick trusts him, but how much he trusts himself. Patriots fans will have to hope that the answer is “a lot,” because with Harris out and Strong very inexperienced, it will likely take a big game from Stevenson to keep the playoff hopes alive and well.

Bengals Depth Chart

QB: Joe Burrow
RB1: Joe Mixon
RB2: Samaje Perine
LWR: Ja’Marr Chase
RWR: Tee Higgins
SWR: Tyler Boyd
TE1: Hayden Hurst

Patriots Depth Chart

QB: Mac Jones
RB1: Rhamondre Stevenson
RB2: Damien Harris
LWR: Nelson Agholor
RWR: Devante Parker
SWR: Jakobi Meyers
TE1: Hunter Henry

From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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